April 29, 2011

Awesome Day In My Life

Today ranks as one of my favorite days. So many things went right. I am so pleased, so grateful, so astounded that a day that feels as good as this one is a part of my life after so many years of struggle. I don't know who or what to thank, but I am truly appreciative.

I got to sleep in instead of going to GIS/GPS. I take this course off campus at CSUMB, which is an old, run-down army barracks, so it's a trek to get there, it's sort of ugly, and I took a stressful exam on Tuesday in that class, so missing out for a day was like having a snow day. Instead, I used the time to catch up on some sleep, watch my kitties get themselves stuck behind furniture, and make a pair of earrings to go with my new red lipstick.
Here is parsnip, not stuck between furniture,
but very cute with her Seafood Watch sardine toy.

New earrings I made to go with that red, red lipstick

At noon, I attended a lecture at Hopkins Marine Station by Sylvia Earle. (She's like the female Jaques Cousteau, or a marine version of Jane Goodall, and definitely one of my heroes. She won the TED prize in 2009 for this lecture.) How inspiring to be in a small room full of marine conservation-motivated people, with a presentation given by one of our predecessors and paragons. *sigh*
Sylvia Earle!

The location didn't hurt. Hopkins Marine Station is on a gorgeous spit of land by the Monterey Bay Aquarium: seals and otters play in the water, and you have a lovely view of the bay. Ahh, the white sand beaches. When I went in, I took these pictures...

and when I came out, the wind was whipping up these frolicking and rolling waves. Energizing!

I headed home where I had an interview with the World Wildlife Fund for a possible internship position this summer in DC with the Aquaculture team (....um, dream job for me!!!...) which went well, I think (*fingers crossed*).

I walked down to school where I had an interesting discussion in my Spanish class about how Cuba is one of the top environmentally friendly countries (amongst the hispano/latino countries). I think my Spanish is improving--little things that I couldn't be bothered with because I was concentrating so hard on getting my main ideas across are now on my plate to correct and remember. Then I had my economics and the environment course which I really love. Thinking about things from an economic perspective is a new way of thinking for me. It's challenging and interesting. My professor shoots straight and has us read super relevant, intelligent articles.

I met with the Student Sustainability Council about our hopes to 'green' the merchandise available on campus. Walked to the grocery, talked on the phone with my dad and my sister, came home and made dinner. Then had a skype date with a woman who was directed to speak with me by Mark Silberstein, the director of Elkhorn Slough. She, like me, was inspired by Dan Barber's TED talk about Veta la Palma, the multi-trophic, ecologically-based aquaculture farm in the South of Spain. She's visiting Veta la Palma next week, and wanted to know what questions I would ask if I were visiting. I'm sort of in awe/shock that when someone in the area is interested in aquaculture, a noted ecologist would forward them to me. I'm still just a student!

The last joy of the day was ichatting with our great friends Phil and Tara whom we miss very much. We both opened bottles of sparkling wine (faux champagne) to celebrate the goodness that this sort of day encompasses in our lives.

April 20, 2011


I am romanticizing this picture by Rena Effendi, granted. But I like so many things about this photo. It reminds me of things I care about. The earthen walls mean the building was sustainably built. The thickness of the earthen building means it's probably cool in summer and warm in winter. The light on the table means there's probably a skylight. The quality of light is gorgeous. The woman is baking bread by hand; cooking from scratch is one of my favorite things. Her clothes are dusty and old, but well kempt, reminiscent of the comfortable things I like to wear camping or climbing. Her hands look like working hands. Her nails are painted and she wears earrings and a headscarf. Just enough pizazz to be womanly. I'm curious about the table she's using, the handkerchief around her wrist, what oven she uses. She looks beautiful and contemplative. Maybe her life is very difficult--Rena Effendi tends to photograph difficult lives like those of heroin addicts and prostitutes-- but I thank her for being the subject of this photograph. It is lovely.

April 14, 2011

Fish Names

At work, I was collecting landings data for fish. I came across these particularly wonderful fish names: ocellated frogfish, polka-dot batfish, daggertooth, skilletfish, ocean pout, bearded brotula, luminous hake, freckled pike-conger, silverstripe halfbeak. I posted them on Facebook (maybe you saw that), and a friend's 7 yr old son drew this awesome rendition of the same fish. I can't get over how happy I am that he did this.

April 13, 2011

Pre TEDxMonterey

Last month, I posted about an opportunity I had to audition/compete to speak at TEDxMonterey. I was successful in my efforts!

And the past month has been kind of insane. Preparing to speak at TEDx is no small task. It's still insane which is why I'm going to cheat and bullet point lots of this post rather than write it out. Because I have a paper due before Friday, but I also want to share my process with you.

Reasons why it's hard:
*I esteem TED and want to make my performance TED-worthy.
*I've never done that before, so how do I know if I'm doing it?
*I've never performed AND presented at the same time before (right brain + left brain).
*Since lecturing while contorting proved to be virtually impossible (mic falling off, being winded with exertion or inversion, trying to advance slides at the same time, and remembering my story), I decided to pre-record my voice and slides. I'm not a professional recorder, speaker, or movie maker, but I want this to be awesome. I devoted tons of effort/time into recording, re-recording, editing, etc. Still, there are only so many hours in a day, and I'm going to school full time and have a job. So even though I want this to be perfect, I know it's not. This is really reallydifficult for me to swallow because I only have one chance at this. Every not-perfect miniscule thing in the 'movie' makes my nerves crazy.
*I have never been so nervous for a performance in my life. It's been a month, and every time I think about it, my heart goes into my throat. I'm not nervous about performing, persay, I'm nervous about all the things I can't control. Like, will the videographer do a decent job? Because that video is going to be on the TED archive for ever. What will the lighting be like? And also about the aforesaid miniscule nitpicky tiny things in the 'movie' that I hope to jeebus don't detract from the overall presentation/impression.
*I'm a performer more than a lecturer, so I feel like a diva amongst the other speakers *hangs head, feels shame.* I want everything to go well, but I think all my performer-type questions to the organizers come across as annoying. I requested an extra rehearsal to make sure things would go alright, so I could check my costume, the lighting, the technical aspects, and it was a failure. We ended up having to jury-rig the 'movie,' so I could at least practice on the stage, but the lighting, sound, etc was nothing like it will be for the actual presentation....so my worries have not been allayed.
*I wanted to use a new costume, but it doesn't show up well on the stage...so I have to use an old costume which is disappointing, and I fear that it will seem tired to those who are familiar with my contortion.
*I fear that my performance fans will think this story intellectualizes an experience too much.
*I fear that my colleagues/teachers/future employers will brush me off as too quirky or creative to be scholarly.
*I fear that it will sound like I'm reading, or conversely, like I'm too informal in my speech.
*I fear that no one will be able to relate.
*I fear that no one will be able to relate.
*I fear that no one will be able to relate. (yeah. that's a big one.)

Why I'm doing it anyway:
*I esteem TED and am humbled and excited at the opportunity to present at this event. This means a lot to me.
*I feel like this is a way to thank the many TED lecturers who have been vulnerable and presented their stories and have inspired me.
*I have never integrated my left and right brain in one project like this, and I'm really stoked to do it for something so meaningful for me.
*I feel like I'm in a new stage of life, where things don't go wrong all the time, and in fact a lot goes really really well. If I succeed at presenting at TEDx, I will have yet another reason to believe this.
*I like telling stories.
*I am happy to be vulnerable if it helps other people open up and be honest with themselves too. I know TED talks have a great potential for this. I don't know if mine will ever be watched by anyone who doesn't know me already, but I'm willing to give it a shot.
*I have learned that putting yourself right up against challenge/failure means you will either come out more victorious than you thought possible, or learn what your boundaries are so you can recalculate and redirect your efforts in the future. Possibility of failure is no reason to back down, if the possibility of success means enough to you.

And, so...
Friday April 15th, around 2:45 PST (5:45 EST), I will be on stage, giving this thing a go.
I've prepared, I'm still preparing, and we'll just have to see how it goes.

It will be livestreamed here, translated into several languages even, and archived at some point in the future.

I hope you can watch.


"Aquacalypse Now"

Ever wonder what it is I'm studying exactly?

Here is a well written, accessible article that discusses most of the issues regarding ocean conservation and seafood, entitled Aquacalypse Now .

[Link should be enabled now. Sorry 'bout that]

April 4, 2011

Phoenix, the Comedienne

I was on ichat with my sister and her girls today. Tiger is 4, Phoenix is 1.5. Phoenix was being a little comedienne--making a Pftt sound and then forcing herself to laugh--knowing the combination would make us laugh. And it did. But she kept doing until it wasn't funny anymore. But she kept it up until it WAS funny again. Pretty cute.